Review of Shipwreck: The Strange Fate of the Morro Castle By Max Morgan Witts and Gordon Thomas
I have no restrictions on when a book was first published for it to be covered in this blog. I talk about books that I personally have discovered through one means or another. This is particularly true in the case of this book, which was first published in 1972. The authors of the book were smart enough to reclaim the rights to the story and make it available in eBook form. I read the Kindle version of the book. So now thanks to technology an old book has a new life. And with a price of under $5.00 it’s a no brainer. This is a first-rate disaster story worthy of your time.
The story involves a cruise ship that caught fire on a return cruise from Cuba to New York in 1934. One-hundred-and-thirty-four people lost their lives. The official cause of the fire was undetermined. The authors, however, make a strong case for arson as the cause and pin the deed on a radio operator by the name of George White Rogers. Their evidence is compelling, and I would have to agree with their findings.
This a detailed account of the accident, rescue, and subsequent investigation. It is written in a narrative style that holds up to the best nonfiction narratives of today.
The fact that this is a collaboration between two different authors is not apparent in the final book. It is written seamlessly with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Each of the characters from the crew, to the passengers are fully fleshed out. George White Rogers was never charged with starting the fire. He, in fact, was hailed as a hero. But if you have any doubts about his involvement, all you have to do is continue reading about his life after the accident and all doubt will be removed.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding this story. In addition to the fire, which spread quickly, their was the mysterious death of the captain by suspected poisoning. And like other similar disasters, there is plenty of blame to go around from the lack of lifeboat drills to problems with the fire fighting ability of the crew and ship.
I congratulate the authors on the foresight to bring their work back to the forefront. If you’re looking for a good disaster story, you won’t be dissapointed.